We know that drug addiction and mental illness tend to go hand in hand, but can drug addiction itself be considered a mental illness? We’re diving in here.

Every individual has some form of addiction (some light, some heavy).

Society has a strange relationship with addiction. On one hand, it’s seen as an act of someone being degenerate and escaping their problems. On the other, it’s viewed as a legitimate mental illness.

The consensus is this: it’s a mental illness.

Addiction is seen as a mental illness due to the dependence on a substance which can affect people from any ethnic, cultural, or socioeconomic background. The World Health Organization (WHO) sees dependence and addiction as the same disease.

This creates a psychological, physical change which reshapes the cognitive abilities of the individual — generally outside of their control.

There are multiple precursors which spike addiction:

The dependence is lumped in with the following actions:

  • A strong desire to take the substance
  • Difficulty controlling the substance abuse
  • Increased tolerance
  • Persistence of abuse despite mental & physical consequences

Drug abuse and dependence happens when an individual outweighs the damaging effects such as by increasing dosage or experiencing withdrawal symptoms when they suddenly stop.

What’s at the root of the problem? Let’s find out…

The Fine Line of Drug Addiction and Mental Illness

Studies point that drug addiction may be a form of:

  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder – A feeling that an action needs to be completed in order to satisfy a “mental tick”; when alcohol and drugs are involved it extrapolates due to the inherently addictive properties of the drugs.

The line begins to blur when the addiction becomes a strain on family relations, finances, emotional support, physical wellbeing, and acts of neglect. These are common symptoms which occur from other mental health issues.

It goes a little deeper, though, too…

Treatment for Drug Addiction/Mental Illness

Treatment of drug addiction and mental illness has begun to work on the same principles — it’s not just kicking the physical addiction — it’s also about changing the mental stability of the individual to help with long-term recovery.

These include:

  • Psychotherapy – Therapy is at the forefront of the battle; after physical dependency has calmed a professional may be needed to keep the mental stability of an individual inline so they understand the root of the problem.
  • Identity Transformation – Addiction becomes a lifestyle; it’s hard to change who you are when a drug addiction is a major factor in your identity. Psychology and support help the individual find new meaning to their life which helps them attach to the idea of never returning to previous abuse.
  • Support groups – Groups are readily available to help sponsor an individual and provide them with an outlet to share their stories and realize their mistakes. The groups create new relationships and opportunities to experience life without the crux of the drug addiction.
  • Medication – Medical advancements in both physical and mental health have come a long way to help with drug abuse. Antabuse, Naltrexone, and Campral are just a few of the medications to curb cravings and help toward an improvement of cognitive reasoning when it comes to the addiction.


Drug use typical leads to drug abuse. Using casually creates a tolerance which often leads to dependence and addiction because the body has a new “baseline” to feel the same effects.

These addictions can spur from any number of drugs:

  • Cocaine
  • Alcohol
  • Prescription painkillers
  • Methamphetamine
  • Heroin
  • Benzos

It can happen as easy as abusing pain prescriptions after a medical procedure or becoming hooked after a romping party. The important thing is to understand the problem when it begins to become apparent.

Places like Prescott House Drug Addiction Treatment can help. Learn the dangers of addiction and what’s required to avoid hitting rock bottom from this terrible, mental illness.

You owe it to yourself to change your lifestyle. There’s no reason to be a slave to a drug. Take action, today, and become the better you.